How to Oil Your Guitar's Fret Board

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Not only will oiling your guitar's fret board result in a better appearance and more comfortable feeling playing, but it will also increase the life of your guitar. Between string tension and the truss rods, fretboards are under quite a bit of stress. Keeping the wood in good condition is the best way to ensure a long life for your guitar.

  • Make sure your guitar is in good shape. If it looks warped, has cracks in it, or any other serious damage, take it to a professional luthier for repairs.

  • Determine what kind of wood your neck is made from. Most guitars have fretboards made out of rosewood, maple, or ebony. Maple fret boards are likely to be varnished, which means they do not need oil. Rosewood and ebony fretboards tend to be unvarnished, and require a bit of oil to clean. If you are unsure whether your fretboard is varnished, take it into your local guitar store and ask.

  • Wipe the entire fretboard and neck with a soft cloth. Take your time and do a thorough job, getting it as clean as possible.

  • Look closely at the frets. Often, dirt and grime gets packed in around them, making them hard to clean with a cloth alone. See if there is any dirt stuck in there that you've missed.

  • Use a plastic scrubbing pad or 00- grade steel wool to clean around the frets. Be careful, as it is possible to scratch your guitar fret board.

  • If your guitar has a varnished fretboard, skip steps 7 and 8.

  • Apply a small amount of high-quality furniture oil on a clean cloth and wipe it around the frets to remove any remaining bits of dirt.

  • Wipe the rest of the fretboard with the cloth. Use small circular motions to spread the oil evenly over the entire fret board.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a furniture oil that contains petroleum distillates. It will have a label on it that says something like "Warning: Contains petroleum distillates. Harmful or fatal if swallowed."
  • Clean your guitar with a dry cloth in between oilings.
  • Oil the fretboard once or twice a year.
  • Don't use SOS pads or any other steel wool products with soap.
  • Don't use any cleaning products with silicone or wax. These substances can build up on your fretboard, leaving a sticky, gummy residue.
  • Avoid products that contain citrus oils. Some can damage your guitar.

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